If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You’ve heard it a million times before, and hopefully, it’s sunk in by now. But even the most reasonable among us can fall victim to unreasonable expectations from time to time, and when deceptive marketing gets thrown into the mix, things get even dicier. So, in the interest of preserving your sanity—as well as your wardrobe—allow us to remind you: A so-called “custom” dress shirt that costs $100 isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it’s not even custom, at least not in the sense that they guys trying to sell it to you would like you to believe. Before we get into the details, let’s lay the scene. One of the great things about the internet is the platform’s ability to connect customers directly with makers. It’s how we at BOGA
ensure the highest possible quality with the fairest possible price. But there’s a flip side to all of that, and it rears its ugly head when the makers you’re connecting with don’t have your best interests at heart. Which brings us to these supposed custom shirt makers. You know, the online outfits that claim to provide a bespoke experience, but at prices closer to what you’d find at the local mall. Like we said: too good to be true. See, a bespoke shirt is made just for you. From the pattern to the fabric to the finishing details, each aspect is entirely personalized. And that kind of personalization is expensive; you can expect to pay at least $300 per shirt. So how do these other guys manage to provide something similar at a third of the price? Simple, they cut corners. The first things to go are high-quality fabric and construction. Cheap cotton. Slapdash stitching. These are the hallmarks of the online “custom” dress shirt. But what about the fit?, you might say. Well, turns out that’s probably not going to be good either. Instead of getting measured by a professional tailor who specializes in shirt making, many of these shops ask you to measure yourself, or get a loved one to do it. It’s a process that almost guarantees inaccuracy. And that inaccuracy is only compounded by their process—not true bespoke by any means; more a riff on made-to-measure—in which they adjust block patterns to fit your provided measurements. Custom cannot, by definition, work within a “one size fits most” mentality, but that’s what these guys are trying to do. So what do you wind up with? An oversized collar, too-long arms, and scratchy fabric billowing out around your waist. It’s enough to make any reasonable man ask himself why on earth he should buy a shirt from a shop that promises customization, but really only offers a limited set of options on a few select details, the tradeoff for which is a cheap, ill-fitting shirt. The answer, of course, is that he shouldn’t. An off-the-rack dress shirt, made with care from high-quality components, will look, feel, and fit better. As always, you get what you pay for. Don’t trust anyone that tries to tell you otherwise.